Affording Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Wilderness Camps

Therapeutic boarding schools and wilderness camps can be expensive. With tuition ranging from $6,700 to $63,000, paying for these programs can require research and creative financing plans that combine payment plans, school loans, and private insurance. For most families, the decision to get help for their child is well worth the cost. The following are a few financing options to make these programs affordable.

Scholarships and Payment Plans

Some private schools offer scholarships for students with special qualifications or who demonstrate financial need. In addition, a number of schools offer payment plans to allow parents to spread out tuition payments over a 9-12 month period for a minimal cost, usually around $50. For more information about your particular school’s payment options, contact the admissions director.

School Loans

Even though a number of schools offer tuition payment plans, many families need additional assistance. School loans are an attractive financing option. An education loan allows parents to spread out payments over a longer period, making tuition much more affordable. Often, loan payments are about the same as a monthly car payment (as low as $100-$500 per month), and some loans allow payments to be deferred for up to 12 months. In addition, most loans allow you to spread the costs over 10, 15, or even 20 years with no prepayment penalty or cancellation fees.

For example, Clark Behavioral Health Financing, a subsidiary of Clark Custom Educational Loans Inc., is a popular lender that specializes in therapeutic and special needs financing. It offers flexible, customized financing for K-12 behavioral health treatments of all types, ranging from wilderness camps and drug rehab to a variety of treatment centers. Loans may cover all school fees, tuition, room and board, enrollment fees, transport/escort fees, past due balances, educational consultant fees, prescriptions, aftercare, and more. The company requires that the borrower (or co-signer) have satisfactory credit with an employment and residence history of at least two years, have proof of current income, be a U.S. citizen/permanent resident who has resided in the U.S. for two years, and have a student enrolled at an academically accredited school.

Most banks appoint a skilled loan broker to talk one-on-one with clients to discuss the types of loans available (such as interest-only loans, interest differed/principal only loans, or immediate interest and principal repayment loans), and choose one that best suits the family’s needs. In addition, most lenders communicate directly with the school regarding loan pre-approval, disbursements, and other issues. In many cases, there are no upfront costs, such as application fees or out-of-pocket costs, but there may be origination fees and interest rates may vary.

Every lender is unique and will offer parents different features and benefits, so it’s always advisable to research a number of providers and programs. Lenders often require a credit test of the parents. But not all credit tests are the same, so a rejection by one company won’t necessarily result in a rejection by another company. Many families mistakenly assume they won’t qualify for loans and miss out on the opportunity to help their child. A simple phone call to the lender or admissions director can give you a sense of your ability to afford the program.

Private Insurance

In some cases, private insurance will defray a portion of program costs. While HMO and most Medicaid plans traditionally have not covered therapeutic boarding schools and wilderness camps, interested parents should contact their prospective program admissions office directly to request assistance with obtaining insurance coverage.

Tax Deduction

For some students with certain physical or mental disabilities, school tuition may be a tax-deductible medical expense for parents who itemize deductions. There are prerequisites for the deduction, and not all students qualify. For more information, contact the admissions director of the program you are interested in, or consult your tax professional.

Financing a wilderness or boarding school program can be a daunting task. Many schools have pre-established relationships with a reputable lender to relieve parents of some of the burden. Although the costs may be considerable, the investment in your child’s future is a sound one.